1975 saw former Beatle John Lennon separated from Yoko Ono and living it up in Los Angeles with characters like his mistress, May Pang, and celebrities like Harry Nilsson (the “Lime in the Coconut” song guy) and Who drummer Keith Moon. It’s been called John’s “Lost Weekend,” likely because the moptop was far too crocked on Brandy Alexanders the entire time to remember what a drunken embarrassment he’d become.
But still, Lennon had work to do; the introductory line to the Beatle’s classic “Come Together”—“Here come old flattop”—was, as it turns out, lifted from a Chuck Berry song, and (as per the terms of the notoriously litigious Berry’s resulting lawsuit) John was legally bound to record an album of ‘50s rock covers. The end result was “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” one of the low points in his solo catalog. Now a letter penned by John himself and addressed to Phil Spector is set to be auctioned off Friday; it’s said to detail some of the inebriated nonsense that took place during the album’s recording.
The note is titled “A matter of pee,” and urine was indeed the central issue. It seems Lennon was being held financially accountable for damage done to the studio’s mixing console, and saw fit to place the blame elsewhere. “Phil–Should you not yet know it was Harry and Keith who pissed on the console,” he writes. There’s no reason to believe this wasn’t exactly the case. The Who were among those proto-punk bands whose raunchy brand of rock was only slightly less shocking than their offstage antics–and Keith was the wildest of them all.
And you wouldn’t think it when listening to pop sugar like “Me and my Arrow,” but Nilsson was wilder still, reportedly in the habit of going for weeklong, sleepless coke binges. Both died far sooner than their time, their organs prematurely savaged by lecherous indulgence.
Lennon’s letter is expected to go for as much as $10,000 at the auction. It’s funny to think, however, that the issue at hand was a supposedly ruined (and probably stinky) mixing console. Today, such vintage equipment would sell for a king’s ransom in its own right; Lord knows someone out there would eagerly pay further still for the one urinated on by rock royalty during the recording of a solo Beatle’s album. Such a connoisseur of music memorabilia would, of course, have to have plenty of Febreze on hand, or at least appreciate the odor of asparagus.